Monarch Tractor
Mark Schwager, president and co-founder, Carlo Mondavi, chief farming office and co-founder, Praveen Penmetsa, CEO and co-founder, and Dr. Zachary Omohundro, chief technology office and co-founder.

Funding Fertilizes Monarch Tractor's Rapid Growth

March 16, 2021
Start-up ag-tech manufacturer, Monarch Tractor, accelerates global deployment to meet growing demand for sustainable farming operations.

“This is a big game changer for us, and it's a great story about a startup tractor manufacturer and incumbent company coming together to push forward sustainability in agriculture -- making sure that farming is more profitable for farmers all over the world,” Praveen Penmetsa, CEO, Monarch Tractor tells IndustryWeek. Monarch is the creator of the world’s first fully electric, driver-optional, smart tractor. 

The game changer Penmetsa is referring to is the recent announcement of Series A funding from global industrial equipment manufacturers, automotive suppliers, venture capitalist and impact capital groups. “The food ecosystem is ready for transformation with farmers demanding sustainable tools that can increase efficiency and farm profitability. Thus, we have seen an incredible and accelerating demand for our Monarch Tractor,” says Penmetsa. “We are excited to have a group of investors who share a commitment to supporting the sustainable development of agriculture and positive global impact on farm economics and sustainability.” 

The investment round garnered global reach led by Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co., Ltd., a Japan-based global auto parts company, CNH Industrial, a worldwide leader in agricultural and on- and off-road industrial equipment, and VST Tillers Tractors Ltd., an Indian tractor and implement company. The round also includes At One Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund, and MUUS, a sustainability-focused private capital group.

“Monarch is pioneering tractor technology that incorporates electrification, autonomous use, and data management. These are three of the key pillars supporting sustainability, productivity, and profitability, both for CNH Industrial and for our farming customers,” says Scott Wine, CEO, CNH Industrial, in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to work with Monarch to develop and deploy their groundbreaking technology ecosystem, which we believe has applicability across our entire Off-Road business.”

The investment highlights that agriculture is slowly transforming, and the existing players see it, explains Penmetsa. “This investment is the beginning of a journey together, and Monarch Tractor is a bridge between sustainability and farm economics for the farmer long term,” he says. 

Infusing experience

The new investors will support the rapid growth of Monarch Tractor’s global deployment, and the resulting access to a mature tractor ecosystem is sure to enable Monarch to better support its tractors after farmers take delivery.

“From a timing standpoint, we've been working to an aggressive schedule, and we are well on our way to putting these tractors into farmers' hands. This funding helps us accelerate the production side, and also accelerate additional development on the tractor, the technology side that we wanted to do,” says Penmetsa.

One area where the acceleration will be most noticeable is on the testing side where Monarch will have the opportunity to draw on valuable experience and expertise from two existing tractor companies in CNH Industrial and VST Tractors. “They know what it takes to properly build develop and tested tractors before putting them into farmers hands. We are going to be leveraging their testing resources both from a knowledge and infrastructure standpoint,” he says. “This also provides a wonderful opportunity to benefit from their supply chains of existing tractor parts, and their expansive distribution channels as we move forward.”

After announcing its tractor in December 2020, there were two distinct responses -- those seeing the development as long overdue, and others wondering if the industry was ready for this kind of transformation presented by a tech-centric startup. "The second group now has their question answered with the investments from big tractor companies into Monarch Tractor," he says. "The time is now for all electric, driver optional smart tractor to reach fields all over the world. It's a huge, huge testament to both our technology, but also the need of the agricultural space."

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